As we honor our veterans this Memorial Day, I discuss some recent articles that focus on our esteemed military and unite my three favorite topics: essential oils, the microbiome, and toxin-free living.
Lately, I’ve been spewing accolades about our beloved essential oils and the microbiome. You also may have noticed I’ve added a “third amigo” to my admiration club: toxic-free living. Imagine my delight over my discovery that these topics link together! Here’s how: (a) chemicals have an impact the microbiome, (b) essential oils support the microbiome, and (c) essential oils provide a non-toxic alternative to protect the body from chemicals, promote health, and love on the microbiome!
In fact, today, I just read two articles that discussed the link between various stressors, including chemicals, to negative changes in the microbiome. These alterations were related to the health in esteemed members of the armed forces. I thought that this was a very appropriate topic for this Memorial Day weekend.
Military Microbiome, Stress, Chemicals, and Essential Oils
In the blog post, Military Gut Microbiome: Unique and Universal, Dr. Edwards, retired United States Navy captain, Ph.D. in Natural Medicine with board certification by the AAIM, and Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Specialist (FDN), discussed the connection between the gut, chemical stressors, and Gulf War Illness. Dr. Edwards writes (bold emphasis mine):
As a retired Navy Captain having served in the Gulf region for six years, I know first-hand about the epidemic of health challenges you face as active duty military and family members. I understand that most of your career is served in extremely demanding and stressful conditions where developing a serious health challenge can be just a matter of time. For those of you wearing the uniform, it means enduring several deployments with exposure to different challenging elements, enduring long days, and staying at peak performance with little sleep and limited nutritional support. For the families at home, it means high-stress levels associated with having to “do it all” while keeping the faith that your loved one comes home safely.
Stress – it’s more than you think…
Chronic stress eventually takes a toll on your health, most notably your immune system, 80% of which is part of your gut microbiome.
The concept of chronic stress extends way beyond feeling stressed or hurried. It includes parasites, bad bacteria, candida, chemicals, heavy metals and emotional stressors. Any one or more of these stressors can add up to a measure of your toxic burden.
When this burden becomes more than you can handle, the body responds with unexplained symptoms such as depression, gastrointestinal stress, joint pain, fatigue, brain fog, inflammation, anxiety, or a headache.
Let’s explore why the microbiome is so important to veterans and to all of us…
For the 700,000 veterans who served in the Gulf War and suffer from unexplained symptoms of neuroinflammation, gastrointestinal and chronic fatigue symptoms called Gulf War Illness (GWI) there is finally a breakthrough in finding a determinant and a solution.
A recent study by The University of North Carolina examined a series of unique symptoms associated with GWI and have traced them to pesticide and insecticide chemical exposure. Earlier I talked about chemical exposure being one of the top stressors in the body.
This study correlated specific Gulf War toxic chemicals to alterations in the gut microbiome which were then linked to the unique symptoms of GWI. The findings showed that a compromised microbiome became a pathway for health challenges.
“Stressed-Out” Soldiers’ Bellies
Dr. Edwards also highlighted a recent study with 73 soldiers. The researchers assessed for changes in the participants’ intestinal microbiota (gut bugs) composition and metabolic activity, and intestinal permeability (IP) in relationship to a four-day cross-country ski march (STRESS). The soldiers received either protein-or carbohydrate-based supplement rations. The difference in macro-nutrients was aimed to determine if diet could be attributed to any alterations (it wasn’t).
According to the study’s results, the soldiers’ microbiota composition shifted in diversity (to be more dominanted by Bacteroides rather than the baseline abundance of Actinobacteria). This shift was linked with changes in gut metabolites after the STRESS. Furthermore, these changes in the metabolites were associated with alterations in an inflammatory marker, cysteine concentrations, and IP variability. The authors concluded that stress impacts the microbiota via IP:
Findings demonstrate that a multiple-stressor military training environment induced increases in IP that were associated with alterations in markers of inflammation, and with intestinal microbiota composition and metabolism. Observed associations between IP, the pre-stress microbiota, and microbiota metabolites suggest targeting the intestinal microbiota could provide novel strategies for preserving IP during physiologic stress.
The Essential Oil Solution!
… while protecting us and supporting us from the harm of toxins?
Of course, other measures are important for overall health, but essential can be big piece of support in any wellness routine and may be a relaxing way for our military to unwind this holiday.
A Fun Way to “Eat Up the Benefits” of Essential Oils Memorial Day
Cooking with essential oils can be an easy way to enjoy incorporating the benefits of essential oils in everyday life and to “spice up celebrations!”
Check out these ingredients in this yummy Mediterranean Marinade Recipe:
- ¾ cup olive oil
- ½ cup soy sauce (Organic, Wheat Free)
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 drop Oregano essential oil
- 2 drops Lemon essential oil
- 1 drop Black Pepper essential oil*
Find some gut-supporting essential oils here.
*Please make sure your essential oils are labeled for safe ingestion before cooking with them! Some are not!
Disclaimer: This information is applicable ONLY for therapeutic quality essential oils. This information DOES NOT apply to essential oils that have not been tested for purity and standardized constituents. There is no quality control in the United States, and oils labeled as “100% pure” need only to contain 5% of the actual oil. The rest of the bottle can be filled with fillers and sometimes toxic ingredients that can irritate the skin. The studies are not based solely on a specific brand of an essential oil, unless stated. Please read the full study for more information.
This material is for information purposes only and is not intended to diagnose, treat, or prescribe for any illness. You should check with your doctor regarding implementing any new strategies into your wellness regime. These statements have not been evaluated by the FDA. (Affiliation link.)